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Tidal migration and patterns in feeding of the four-eyed fish Anableps anableps L. in a north Brazilian mangrove

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The tidal migration, temporal and spatial patterns in feeding of the surface-swimming four-eyed fish Anableps anableps (Anablepidae) were studied in a macrotidal mangrove area in north Brazil to exemplify the ecology of a tropical intertidal fish. Visual censuses in the main channel showed that abundances were high at low water (LW) and low at high water (HW). Anableps anableps entered the intertidal creeks with the first flood rise. They fed in the inundated mangrove at HW and returned gradually after the ebb current maximum to concentrate again in the subtidal parts of the main channel at LW. This pattern occurred at neap, mid and spring tides throughout the year. The tidal migration was triggered by water level, not by time. In the study area the diet of A. anableps caught with block nets was dominated by intertidal red algae (Catanella sp.). Other important food items were Insecta and Grapsidae. The combination of high inundation and daylight (spring tide-day) provided the best foraging conditions, probably emphasizing the importance of the above-water eye. Darkness and low inundation was linked to poorest foraging conditions (neap tide-night). The quantity of food consumed by A. anableps was clearly influenced by the factors tide, time of day and creek location, but not by size and sex. The qualitative composition of the diet was not influenced by any of the factors, except for mud, which was only ingested at neap tides. The temporal and spatial variability in food consumption suggests that food web modelling in macrotidal areas may lead to misinterpretations of the overall systems dynamics if the spring and neap tide alternation and the diurnal cycle are not considered.
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Keywords: Anableps anableps; mangrove creek; mutualism; stomach fullness; tide; visual census

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Fahrenheitstr. 6, 28359 Bremen, Germany

Publication date: 01 February 2007

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